Friday, February 09, 2007

Real women box alone

After spending some time in the corporate world, my best friend and I were laughing yesterday about how unrealistic it is to see gym workout scenes in movies and television shows with women who are supposedly high-powered achievers.

For example, my friend, who works for a fairly large political firm but likes to work out at the Y, laughs at the way Boston gyms are portrayed in movies like "Fever Pitch". The film showed Drew Barrymore and her affluent friends standing around a punching bag in a high-end gym in broad daylight, and eventually Drew punches her friend. Barrymore is supposedly an upwardly mobile ad exec. The ad execs I know either

a) go jogging at dawn, before work, because they don't even have time to go to the gym to use the treadmills before their day starts at 8:30 a.m.
b) exercise in the evening, and usually do so in a less-than-lackadaisical way, choosing to either slam their bodies up down on a cardio machine, sweat like mad in an intense power yoga studio, or work out in a scrappy boxing gym where there are real coaches to train them.

If you're a woman who's interested in working out, you aren't going to waste a lunch hour getting hot and sweaty if you're not going to take it seriously, because you have to blow-dry your hair and apply makeup again. For these 3 women to stand around on a weekday chatting around a punching bag (and ask yourself: when was the last time you saw a punching bag in any gym?) is insane. This kind of character would be more likely spend lunch eating salad at her desk and checking her email, because that's obviously where her priorities are at.

Which brings me to my next point: chicks like that do not box. At all. Even for pretends. And if they did so, they would not do it with their friends. Chicks like that run on elliptical machines and read People. They do ridiculous exercises involving colored balls better left in the giant grocery store cages from which they emerged. The punching bag scene only exists so that Drew can punch her catty friend in the face to stop her constant carping, but chicks like that don't punch their friends. They pointedly forget to invite said friends to the gym in the first place, because women gymgoers don't like to work out with judgemental peers. They like to work out with people who are in slightly worse shape than they are and who won't mind if they jam out to their iPods instead of talking. And any girl who has the gumption to get sweaty at lunch and the cajones to punch her friends in the face when they bug her--if she boxes at all, she boxes alone (see "Girlfight").


Meanwhile, as I am a yoga practitioner and have abandoned the gym for the reasons listed above, I think the portrayal of yoga on "Sex and the City" is pretty silly. The four women are almost constantly talking in their yoga class, which is impossible to do in a regular yoga class, because

a) You're supposed to breathe. That's like Rule Numero Uno of yoga. Even first-timers are schooled in this basic precept. Talking equals failure to breathe.
b) These four women always seem to be somewhere close to the front row, which is a statement of self that says "I'm okay with you staring at me for the whole class, because I am really yogic and won't mess up." Someone who makes that kind of class placement decision would never talk in class, because they've unconsciously set themselves up to be a good example. It's weird, but true.
c) The stressed-out students who populate the kinds of studios where wealthy, stylish women would go to practice would never stand for four people talking amongst themselves. They would give them withering glares, then start to breathe pointedly like horses in a stable; eventually, one of them would get a foot in the face during Flip Dog.


My final point: women with bodies of the caliber shown on "Fever Pitch" and "Sex and the City" would be unable to maintain their killer physiques with these poor workout habits. The real actresses who play them most likely have grueling workout regimes, the details of which would be too horrible to discuss here. I'm surprised that they don't throw down these scripts and say, "No! My character is supposedly a heartless, ruthless corporate headhunter who chews men and women up and spits them out. She would never set foot in a yoga studio, and more importantly, she would never leave the gym until her 1,000 crunches and 50 lunges were done. Only Rosie O'Donnell could act like this at the gym and still be a realistic character."

I'm just sayin'. If you're gonna represent a powerful working woman like the ones I know and love, do it right. Give her an iPod with something borderline-dorky blasting, like the Black Eyed Peas or Britney, make her wear her favorite black sweats and her "Boston Marathon" t-shirt from '03 instead of a perfect Lululemon outfit, and let her sweat. And if she must be in a boxing situation, remember this: real women box alone.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Daaaa bears: a Superbowl poseur's tale of two cities

(Published on Feb. 4, originally under the title "Losing Touch with the Touchdowns: The Transformation of a Former Football Fan")

Celebrating the Superbowl has changed a lot for me in the last five years. And it's all Boston's fault.

I'm not sure if it's just me--because let's face it, we've come a long way when Britney Spears' rock-hard abdomen has now given rise to two children and a lawsuit, and the best the halftime show can do to replace her is to bring in a tiny '80s pop star with ambiguous sexuality and cape-wearing backup dancers. Aren't the Stones still touring? Wouldn't that have sufficed?

Okay, so I think I may share this viewpoint with the rest of the country. But inside, I think I am no longer suited for the Superbowl. A slow change, wrought by living in a city with a slew of gourmet food stores and high general IQ, has transformed me from a Suburban Football Fan into an Aloof Boston Professional. Like the nuclear sludge that turned a handful of turtles into a quarted of spaced-out ninjas, the ambiance of this city has changed me into a being with a higher consciousness, a much cooler outfit and some interesting talents I picked up from the wise teachers I've had here--but it has robbed me of the inability to enjoy the things I used to love when I was a simpler creature, such as playing Flip Cup in a cold basement.

One day, the Ghost of Superbowls Past is going to come along and find me at my desk, belaboring a lede and secure in the knowledge that a sushi roll and a stick of sandalwood incense awaits me in my apartment. He will take me away and show me what I've been missing, and the contrast between yesterday's Superbowl experience and one from five years ago will be stark and telling. I can see the scenes unfolding now:

Scene 1: The pre-game ritual
Five years ago: I wake up early. I find my super-cool "Seniors" hoodie tumbling around in my dryer (it was great to have the use of laundry facilities that didn't cost $5 a load, I will reflect while watching myself with the Ghost) and put it on. Outside, a car honks: it's my high school friends, waiting in a red beat-up Jeep in the driveway (it was great to have more than one friend with a car, I think). We stop at the grocery store to pick up Lays Potato Chips and Bison dip. We all pile into the home of a friend whose parents have scored last-minute tickets to the Superbowl in another state (as this is Buffalo, we know our team will not be one of the two sparring today). At 10 a.m., we crack open a cold one, take the hot dogs out of the freezer to thaw, and turn on some Dave Matthews Band. It's eight hours til kickoff, but who's counting? We've got enough burgers and beer to last us until tomorrow, right?

This year: I schedule a coffee meeting at 11 a.m. because I have forgotten it is Superbowl Sunday. I sip a grande vanilla mocha latte with my companion, and we discuss art galleries and a friend's nonfiction work-in-progress. I no longer eat meat, so I snack on a bowl of berries and granola. On my way home, I call some friends and invite them to come over. They agree on the basis of the fact that they "like watching the commercials." Unfortunately, none of us know what time the game starts, so I tell them to look it up. I stop at the local co-op to pick up organic avocados and soy-based mayo substitute make homemade guacamole for my "party." At home, I do some yoga while waiting for my guests. Within fifteen minutes of arriving, they are bickering over whether the guacamole needs more lemon pepper or garlic salt. As a result, we miss the kickoff.

Scene Two: Which team are you rooting for?
Five years ago: Five guys are gathered around a smoky pool table, using a complicated form of sports calculus to determine which team is appropriate to cheer for based on their degrees of separation from our hometown team. As always, in a nod to U.S. early-90s foreign policy, the "the enemy of my enemy is my friend" theory is employed by someone who suggests that whoever has most recently beaten the Dolphins is eligible to be "our" team for the evening. Finally, after much deliberation, a side is chosen. Using a formula that is just as arbitrary-but-meaningful ("Well, my cousin lives in Boulder, so I guess I'll root for the Broncos") a minority of people choose the opposing team "so that it will still be fun."

This year: The Colts and the Bears were playing, but no one could remember which cities they came from or what their histories were. We settled on the Bears based on an esoteric Saturday Night Live skit in which the protagonist (who was a much better football fan than we were) constantly thought about "Da Bears." We repeat this phrase whenever anything happens and count that as "cheering." Even when they fumble. Or injure themselves. We just don't know what's going on. Daaaaaaaaa bears.

Scene three: The beer run
Five years ago: By 2 p.m., the keg's "tapped" and the tower of Natural Ice 30-packs purchased by someone's older brother has been reduced to a rubble. The three most recently-arrived and therefore sober guests are appointed to bring more back. "What should I get?" they ask. The resounding response from the crowd comes in a unified roar: "Something cheap!" The result is like something out of Willy Wonka's liquor cabinet: Sprite, Mike's Hard Lemonade, Parrot's Bay, Rolling Rock. Nothing matches or mixes, but everyone just makes a face and downs it anyway.

This year:
"I think we have some Shiraz left over from New Year's, don't we?" I asked my boyfriend while out shopping. "Yes, and plenty of Blue Moon and Birra Rossi," he replied. Just to be safe, I picked up some Amstel on my way home at Trader Joe's. But then, we realized that we had beer imported from Belgium, Italy, and Holland--but nothing domestic. This did not seem "appropriate," so someone picked up some "traditional beverages": Bud Light and PBR. Unfortunately, my female friends refused to drink this, so it was consumed in mass quantities by the only sports fan in attendance. Come to think of it, I can understand why.

Scene four: trash-talking
Five years ago: the conversation before halftime is about the recent loss of Flutie to the San Diego Chargers. "They're nothing without him, man--he was their heart and soul!" someone says. "Are you kidding? No, man we have a really good defense this year. One man can't carry the whole team," another Bills fan interjects. Suddenly, the crowd on television cheers, and everyone turns to watch. The QB is gunning down the field. Then, he fumbles. "Whoa, whoa, what's he doing?" someone shouts. "What's he doing?" Then, the predictions start. "I bet he's going to use the Hail Mary play." Later, this prediction comes true. "What did I tell you, dude? What did I tell you! They used that one in '83."

This year: The conversation before halftime is about Prince's musical influences and choice of material. "Of course he's derivative of Jimi Hendrix," someone intones. "But Jimi wasn't, like, that flamboyant," says the girl who refused to drink the Bud Light. "He reminds me more of Little Richard." The other person shakes her head. "Almost everyone is derivative of Little Richard. He probably inspired Jimi Hendrix. And what do you mean, Hendrix was not that flamboyant? Did you not see his performance on Woodstock? Dude." Suddenly, the crowd on television--composed only of suspiciously high-pitched female voices--cheers, and everyone turns to watch. Prince is strutting out onto a giant symbol representing himself, wearing a doo-rag. "What is he doing?" someone groans. "What is he doing?" Then, the predictions start. "It's raining -- I bet he's going to play 'Purple Rain.'" Later, this prediction comes true. "Dude, what did I tell you? I told you he was going to play that song." Someone else interjects. "Didn't he sing that one in like, '83?"

Scene five: Post-game denouement
Five years ago: after a day spent choking down cheap malt beverages and inhaling half of a farmyard with ketchup, everyone is too tired to get off the couch when the game ends. Weak motions are made to arrange for rides home, as no one is fit to drive; football pool monies are dutifully doled out. At least ten people gather quietly around the table to mourn the inevitable end of Monday Night Football. The other ten step outside for a cigarette. Eventually, someone turns on a Seinfeld rerun.

This year: no one notices that the game is over. Finally, someone breaks away from a stimulating discussion on the number of calories in the beer and pizza we just consumed to ask, "Who won?" Someone who's not "da bears," the lone sports-loving guy tells us. We shrug. No one wants to go home--there's still another pizza and a rumor of some Ben and Jerry's organic ice cream in the fridge--so we discuss what we'll do next. Then my boyfriend asks, "Does anyone want to watch some Aqua Teen [Hunger Force]?"

That, I think, seals it. According most major media news outlets, we are "mainstream" no longer. And there's no going back.

I can accept this. But please, Ghost of Superbowl Future, please don't show me what's in store for next year's halftime show. With the way things are going, it will probably be Boy George and Vanilla Ice.

Decadence on a dime

(first published on Jan 30, 2007, in response to advice given by my fellow blogger, Emily, on ways to save money as a poor student)

Emily had some good advice recently for saving money--which is not only important while you are in college, but also immediately following your graduation. Your student loans aren't cushioning your bank account anymore, and you may actually have to think about paying them back. You may have the part-time job you held in college, but it likely pays the rent and not much more. Obviously, the best solution to an impoverished situation is getting a Real Job, but this process can take a while; the bigger and better the company, the more glacial the pace of their hiring process. In the meantime, that penchant for Pinot Noir is not going to pay for itself, darling!

But simply because your bank account is running low does not mean that you are out of luck or resources, or that you cannot live in the manner to which you have become accustomed. You simply have be more creative (especially if, like me, you cannot give up coffee as Emily suggests--in that case, see #5). Here is what I've learned from four years as a poor kid in an expensive city.

Tip #1: A night of art and wine - gratis

On the first Friday of every month--including this Friday, Feb. 2--the galleries at 450 Harrison Avenue, including the SoWa artist guild, open up to the public with a big party, aptly named First Friday. The independent artists in 450 Harrison open their bedroom-sized studios to show what they have been working on for the past month, and the larger commercial galleries below reveal carefully curated exhibits of artists they are supporting.

It's all free of charge, and as many galleries offer a cheap bottle of wine in the back room and a bowl of M&Ms for the noshy crowds, you can make a night of it by bouncing from gallery to gallery, sampling each artist's chosen varietal of Two Buck Chuck, chatting up the cute MassArt students, staring glaze-eyed at the works of thread, wire, and film, and window-shopping the beautiful jewelry and sculptures (which you will later purchase once you land the Real Job). The combination of starving artists and wealthy patrons will make you realize that it's not so bad to fall somewhere in the middle.

Tip #2: A wise man once said, "If you let your designer jeans go out into the world, and designer jeans return to you, it means that they are truly yours."

This may or may not be true, but what we're actually talking about is working with consignment stores. Everyone's gathered up unused clothing for charity, but now, you're the one that needs a little help--a lot more than you need that pair of too-small Sevens. So check in with the consignment stores in your area to see what kinds of clothing they are currently accepting (usually they are looking for the next season's styles, so think spring for February) and what brands they like and dislike (certain stores do not accept clothing from "mall stores" or clothing that is more than two years old). They'll take your unwanted clothes and sell them for you, and the money you make (usually 50 percent of the sale price) will either go directly to you or into an account with the store.

After you've dropped off your duds, you can check back periodically to see how much you've earned; then, you can turn around and spend that on something else in the store. The worst that can happen is that your item will not sell, and you will either be asked to come pick it up (and you can give it another go on eBay) or the store will donate it to charity for you--saving you an errand.

Tip #3: Getting into your Tree Pose for free

At 12 to 20 bucks a class (or more), pursuing your passion for dance or yoga is a bit beyond your budget. The good news is that several dance studios and yoga studios in town offer a work-exchange program in which you can perform services and receive free classes. Some studios ask their volunteers to help with maintenance, such as taking out trash and recycling, washing mats and blocks or even helping behind the front desk. This opportunity is usually offered to long-time students whom the studio trusts, but if you show a willingness to work and you are reliable, you may still land a gig as a volunteer employee. If you think about it, it's very yogic--you are serving your fellow man and receiving enlightenment (and a good stretch) in return.

So ask your preferred studio if they offer work exchange (not all of them advertise it to the public). If they don't have a current program, suggest that you might be a great test case (be sure to think of specific things you can do to help). Certain studios also offer first-time-free classes or special rates for beginners, so you may be able to extend your practice by sampling many studios in the city. That way, when you land a Real Job, you'll know whether you want to blow your paycheck on pursuing Vinyasa, Kripalu, capoeira or tap-dancing.

#4 Dinner and a movie for next to nothing

One of the things that you excise from your routine when you're low on dough is the $10 big-screen movie and $30 post-movie dinner with cocktails. And that sucks, because doing dinner and a movie is one of life's great pleasures. But this doesn't mean that you have to disappear from the world of pop culture and socializing.

First of all, you can still get free videos--that one's easy. Every local library has a stock of decent DVD's, and they're not all PBS specials. Most importantly, they represent a way to expend minimal effort for maximum gain. So pick up a free DVD, and on your way home, call your friends. Tell them you're showing a special double feature of Office Space and Gladiator to celebrate your lack of a corporate job, and you're making dinner. If they aren't polite enough to pick up on the hint, ask them each to bring something: cookies, popcorn, beer, whatever. Then, stop at the store and grab a refrigerated pizza crust (about $1 at Trader Joe's), some marinara sauce (about $2 anywhere), some cheese if you need it, and head home to poke through your refrigerator. Put anything you can find on top of the pizza crust (this is assuming that your refrigerator does contain food). I've made it gourmet with asparagus, lemons and pesto; I've gone South with black beans and corn; you can even yuppify it by sprinkling arugula and lemon juice on top. It's actually very hard to screw up a pizza, and it feeds the masses with little effort or expense. (If you do need an easy recipe with few ingredients, however, try this site for "Busy Cooks" at

When your friends arrive, slice up the $3 pizza, crack a free beer, pop a free cookie in your mouth and a free DVD in the machine, and kick back and enjoy. Congratulations--you've spent under $10 for dinner and a movie, for yourself and all of your friends. Take that, Loews.

Tip #5 Instant karma is going to get you ... a grande caramel macchiato.

Every unemployed actor knows this trick: if you're still holding down a part-time job as a barista or a bartender while you wait for your callback-slash-big break, maximize this opportunity to make friends and influence people. Sharing food is a great way to make friends and repay favors.

Case in point: A friend of mine has been working for a coffee shop for over six years, and while some may harass him over his lack of a Real Job, he now has the run of the place. And his shop happens to be in close proximity to a number of bars. People who work in bars need coffee at all hours of the day and night to stay awake; people who work in coffee shops need a strong drink at the end of the day to shake off a day spent serving caffeine-deprived suits with Real Jobs. My friend makes sure that his pals at the local watering hole get an extra shot of espresso when they order; they make sure that he gets a nice heady Guinness with a side of homemade Irish cream at the end of the night, just the way he likes it.

The underlying principle of all this advice is that there's no such thing as a free lunch, but there is more than one way to pay for a dinner. The experience of being poor is not about pinching pennies, but about finding whole new ways to give. Whether it's extra clothing, extra time, or extra kindness, if you mete those things out consciously and carefully, you will always get more than you bargained for. And understanding that is one skill that really will help you land a Real Job.

Life is a beauty pageant--and Mike Perlow has the hair and makeup team

(published Jan 3, 2007)

This piece really helped me as I prepared to get my first job. It has kept me motivated, tough and realistic (for the most part, when I'm not burying my head in the couch cushions or bemoaning my lack of health insurance). It's a little long, but it contains good advice from a guy who's been through the worst job-search wringer of all: broadcast journalism.


Want a job in TV? Get ready for a real-life beauty pageant.

Mike Perlow, a former sportscaster for NESN, knows the industry all too well: he believes it's the greatest one to be in, but TV can taketh away as easily as it gives, hiring and firing employees based on ratings and "TV looks" over journalism know-how. That's why Perlow has made the art of landing a job on-air into a science with his employment consultancy, The Web-based business is part finishing-school, part agency, offering everything from $200 "aggressive" job-search planning sessions to $2,000 sessions with full film crews for shooting demos (audition tapes for on-air positions). And soon, Perlow plans to add a hair and makeup team--if only to have someone else on staff to take on the painful task of telling his female clients that they might consider updating their shoulder-pad suit or losing a few pounds (he says he hates to hurt anyone's feelings).

Creating a sideline for himself, even as his popularity as a TV personality grew, turned out to be a smart move for Perlow. After freelancing around the United States, Perlow landed a spot on the New England Sports Network (NESN), where he went on to write, report, produce, and anchor a variety of shows; he later received several Associated Press (AP) awards and even an Emmy.

And then the station replaced him. With a woman.

Now Perlow has found himself in the job search trenches with his clients, but this isn't necessarily a bad thing, he said. It only means that he takes his own advice more seriously. Throughout our conversation, he emphasizes the importance of the inner pep talk and in not taking television too personally.

If you can't handle what comes with this field, you shouldn't work in it. People are hired and fired for random reasons, and for every job that I haven't gotten for weird reasons, there are jobs where I have gotten it for weird reasons, he said. There's a lot of timing and luck and persistence that comes with these situations. I know something good is going to come along.

Perlow said that this attitude is the only thing an on-air reporter really requires--even in an industry that seems too often to value superficial things (perfectly coiffed hair, for example) over substance (solid reporting and writing).

I've worked with hundreds of people at this point [as their consultant], and I'm amazed at how many people want to get into television, but lack so much of that drive that you need, he said. People want to sit down, they want to wave a magic wand and have a job appear. You have to show some persistence.

Much of Perlow's advice is applicable to almost any job search: stay positive, disciplined and professional. After all, television work is, in many ways, a microcosm of the working world, where many people are hired or dismissed for arbitrary reasons--but where a secret talent or two can help differentiate you from the other 'contestants. Or as Olive�s big brother fumes in Little Miss Sunshine: "Life is just one f---ing beauty pageant after another."

So, below, we've included a rundown of Perlow's most successful $200 job tips to help you in your search.

--Approach your job search like it's your job. "I have very few days where I am sitting around wondering, What am I going to do today?" said Perlow. "The biggest challenges for [recent college graduates] are that when you leave college, every school wants to give you their 'You're our alumni, we want to take care of you,' but you're really on your own," Perlow said. "You come from a structured environment [in college], and when you're on your own, you really have to have the discipline to stay on your job search. No matter how much work they do with me [at], the people that don't succeed with me are those that go at it really hard for a couple weeks and then give up."

--Remember that the best jobs are never posted. "Web sites should be the last layer of your job search. [Employers] are required to post jobs for [equal opportunity] purposes, but by the time they�re posted, they�ve either hired somebody or they know who they�re going to hire," Perlow said. Instead, build your own network by calling potential employers and asking for a few moments of their time to conduct an informational interview. Perlow has his clients working the phones constantly as part of their "aggressive" job search; even if only 30 percent agree to see the client, he said, it's an excellent way to find out about opportunities. "Then when a job does come up, they say, 'Hey, remember that guy who came in a few months ago? I liked his tape, and we do have a sportscaster leaving now...maybe we should call him,'" Perlow said.

--Don't be dissuaded by long-distance job searches. Set up a road trip to visit potential employers, one by one. This tactic was what landed Perlow his first job at a Vermont station: he arranged a tour of several states in New England, dropping his demo tapes at each one. The scheduled trip made his job search affordable by eliminating the need for several plane tickets, and gave him the perfect excuse to see many employers. Said Perlow: "You can give them a call and say "Hi, my name is Mike, and I'm actually going to be in Bangor next week--I was wondering if you might have time to meet with me?"

--Don't believe that your good looks, charm or killer wardrobe will carry you once you land a job--even in television. While that might get you in the front door, they'll be rushing you out the back door soon enough if you can't deliver the goods. The only thing with any sticking power, as Perlow knows, is talent. "I've had clients who had a great TV look and had lots of opportunities, but fell flat on their faces because they didn't know what to do when they got there. They couldn't deal with the deadline pressure," Perlow said. "Even though they looked really good, they came across horribly."
(I also considered an alternate tagline for this item: "Don't depend on your beautiful 'TV eyes'--or you'll just come across as a Stooge." Luckily, I tossed that out.)

--Make sure your application materials highlight real-life experience: in many industries, especially Perlow's, this comes even before education on a resume. (And unless you're applying for The Man Show, leave out 'captain of the cheerleading squad.') "I am appalled at what resumes look like coming out of college. I could wallpaper my condo with the bad resumes I've seen. And a lot of them have been worked on by the college's Career Services," Perlow said. "The most important thing on your resume was where you worked and what you did: they know they're going to have to teach you some things, but they don�t want to have to teach you everything. Somebody can be a member of 20 million clubs, but if they're coming to me for a job without any hands-on experience, they have to really wow me as a person."

--Be realistic about what you're willing to do for a job. "If you don't want to move to the middle of nowhere, be honest with yourself. I had friends who studied broadcasting all through school, and the day after graduation, they realized they wanted to live in Boston, or New York. They made a career change before they started their career," said Perlow. "I think coming out of college, most people can't afford to be picky [but] that doesn't mean that everybody should jump at the first job offer they get."

--However, DO consider as many job offers as possible. "Job offers can be few and far between. Most people if they get a job offer, they have to consider it unless it's a horrible choice," said Perlow. "If you�re looking for that first opportunity, be ready to jump on it when it comes. Sometimes it's two weeks later, sometimes it's six months later. I tell people "What's the worst that could happen? Unless you're under contract, if it doesn't work out, you leave."

--When it doesn't work out, take the high road away from a bad situation. Even employment consultants have their own horror stories about getting fired--but they're smart enough to keep quiet about them. "Unfortunately in television, you have not-so-pleasant departures from situations. I had a really bad experience when I left my station down in Fort Worth, but I never talk about it," Perlow said. "I left there with my head held high, and I think people respected me for that."

--No matter what you studied in college, there is no substitute for real-life experience in the field. "Basically, this first job is your first foray into professional work. As much as you know, there�s so much more you can learn," Perlow said. He also recommends that it's better to get some work experience than to return to graduate school. "I would never discourage someone from being more educated, but if you want to work as a reporter, go get a job as a reporter. I always walk the line with that, but if they�re asking me for career advice, to me it's an easy call," he said.

--However, DO get some experience in college if you can. It doesn't bode well for employers if you had the opportunity and passed it up. "I'm always amazed at people who come to me after college and say they want to be a sportscaster but didn't work at their college radio station or television station. Things got too busy with their fraternity, et cetera," said Perlow. "I say to myself, 'This is all you want to do in life and you didn't do it for four years? If you wanted to be a professional athlete, would you just not play for four years in college and then just hope to become a pro? Of course not.'"

--Once you've made a contact, keep in contact. "If you make a connection with somebody, don't let it disappear. That's a mistake I made, where I made some good contacts but then let them fade into the sunset. Then when you call them two years later, it's obvious about why you're calling. I've received calls like that too. It doesn't mean that you won't help, but it's less appealing," said Perlow. Today, Perlow said, one of the most valuable assets that he offers his clients is his own network--he frequently places clients with his own contacts in the industry, who often call him with job openings.

And one day, Perlow says, that job opening is going to be his.

For more information (or for tactful advice on your wardrobe), contact Mike at or at 781-640-1912.

Bostonworks posts: Sept-Jan

I have decided to transfer my posts from the Boston Globe "BostonWorks" blog to this one, because A) they will be in a central location and B) they will load into Facebook, which will be fun because then my friends can respond without having to go to the Web site (visiting the message boards is like going to a dive bar--they're either creepy, dirty, or full of crazy people). Not all of the posts are compelling--a few are meant to be simply useful to the readers, who are college students and young professionals on the job hunt. But I will try to pick interesting ones that have relevance, even for people outside the Boston area.

Thanks for reading.